Did Jack Skille Force Out David Booth?

Skille's performance may have made David Booth expendable. AP Photo/Alan Diaz

As the dust settles on the David Booth trade, many fans and analysts wonder just why the trigger was pulled.  The smart money says that it was a matter of team performance that Booth was sent packing: the Panthers were shut out the last two games before the deal by Washington and Buffalo.

Other analysts say that it was a cap issue, as Booth would be making a cool $4.25 million until 2015.  The combination of Marco Sturm and Mikael Samuelsson would only cost $4.75 million, and both are in their contract year.  That money could come off the books if the Panthers decide not to resign the veterans, and it could be allocated to bring in a big player (fingers crossed for Zach Parise!).

Even though I agree with those two guesses, I do believe that there is a third factor that made Dale Tallon decide to make the Booth trade.  In my opinion, the performance of Jack Skille has provided a big spark for the Panthers and he consistently has shown speed to generate chances.  In other words, Skille has out-Boothed David Booth.

Let’s be honest: all of us have been impressed with the exciting style of play of Booth.  We’ve watched his rushes down the left wing before, and we’ve seen him score some nice goals.  Unfortunately, that style of play was not there this season.  Even though he only  played six games, Booth seemed significantly less electric.  His rushes didn’t always lead to a quality shot, he couldn’t generate puck possession down low, and he never truly got on the same page with his linemates.  Often times I forgot he was on the team; he was just invisible some nights.  He just came out of the gate flat this season, and based on the shrinking statistics in previous years, that was all that Tallon needed to see to ship him out.

Consider now Skille.  His performance has outshined Booth in almost every manner.  His speed rushes along the wing put some good shots on goal.  When he hasn’t been able to force the goalie to make a save, he has at least been able to consistently gain the zone and generate possession down low.  Even playing on the third and fourth lines, Skille has been the most consistent offensive player.  Just because he hasn’t had a goal this year, don’t think Tallon hasn’t noticed the effort.

You have to think that Tallon has been looking for ways to get Skille more involved with the top line players.  He probably saw Booth on the depth chart with 0 goals, 1 assist, and a -8 in the plus-minus and said, “I have to make a move.”  Now, I’m interested to see how Kevin Dineen will get around to using Samuelsson, Sturm, and a reinvigorated Skille.  There is a gaping hole on the 2nd line left wing where Booth was, and it’s up to Dineen to fill it.

We’ll see what the head coach does, but he does have to be relieved that he doesn’t have to march out an anemic second line every night.  Even though Booth was a fan favorite and we all miss his performance pre-Mike Richards, this is what will be good for the team.

As always, please comment and tell me what you think!

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